Monday, September 14, 2009

This darn recession!

Man, this darn recession!
This is a bit about my adventures as an unemployed college student looking for a job in the DC area.

(here comes a full disclosure, or something close to it...)

I moved here to DC after I finished on the Obama for America campaign. We (the staff and incredible volunteers) felt victorious and were on cloud nine. [Before you think another thought, this is just a note to say that I will not argue politics with you- I don't have to justify to you why I supported this candidate. And even if you disagree with his politics, his campaign was incredible; or maybe you just had to be on the inside of it. Regardless, this blog isn't a platform on which to argue politics.] There were 4,000 + paid staffers on the campaign and over 10 times that of volunteers. A lot of these folks sacrificed their home lives or their jobs... which meant that a lot of these people were also looking for jobs for the new administration after the victory.

I hate to admit that for a few weeks, I was a part of this naive crowd.

And then came our WAKE UP CALL.
The administration did not call me to say "Hey, we want you to work in the White House as Michelle Obama's staff assistant"... oh so sad! I refused to write cover letters and update my resume because I assumed that I would be an indispensable part of the new administration... haha. (It's really funny to write how delusional I was.) February came along and I couldn't find a job. I couldn't understand why I, a member of a historic campaign, couldn't find a job, much less an incredible, posh, lucrative job!!

Alas, that didn't happen and I took what turned out to be a life changing internship at Advocates for Youth. This is really how I joined the Reproductive Health/Justice/Rights movement. I learned some incredible lessons and met some wonderful people there and also found so many FUN and PROGRESSIVE groups that DC has to offer!!

So, starting February 16, I wrote cover letters. I applied. I wrote. I edited. I Gchatted with my Obama campaign buddy Paul. We discussed strategies about applying for positions. Between February and July, I wrote 175 cover letters. All of them were written from scratch. I was granted three interviews.

The first interview was for a scheduler position in a government office. Two women in their mid-twenties made me wait an hour (my scheduled interview time was 9:30, I was taken in at 10:30 for my interview, I arrived at the office at 9:00) for my interview. They sat across from me with my resume between us. They marked my resume up with their questions and concerns about me. Between asking questions and me answering them, they would stare and type on their crack-berries (oops, blackberries)... they were very critical of every experience I brought to the table. I didn't think so after the interview, but I am a fine and competent person who works well in stressful and fast paced situations. I would have been a terrific scheduler. But alas, that door was closed.

My second interview was much better. I met with a woman who wanted to discuss my experiences. She knew everything that was in my cover letter and my resume without referencing it in the interview. She simply asked me how I would do things if I was chosen for the job. I had never been a part of such an engaging interview that I would admit, I was a bit thrown off. It was definitely good practice; and it made me realize, maybe I don't want to work in a cut throat, competitive atmosphere like I once thought...

My third interview wasn't scheduled as an interview. I hadn't applied for the position. I scheduled a time for an informational interview with the Director of a Youth department. I was relaxed and simply wanted to learn more about networking and how I could access more positions or position myself better for jobs. I met with this fantastic woman, who I really enjoyed talking to and she asked me whether I'd like to apply for the position. So one thing lead to another and I was being interviewed for a position that I hadn't even known about an hour before. When she told me about the position, I was so excited that I felt so fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about it! I went back home and immediately wrote the most inspired cover letter. No guarantee that it was the best cover letter but just the most inspired. Well, lo and behold, I got the position!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!

I started in the position about 6 weeks ago. I love it. I get to work with young people, use my strengths and learn more about things that really interest me.

I learned last week that they were downsizing. They had eliminated four positions within the organization... and one of them was mine. This isn't the time to get mushy but I was devastated for a minute, picked myself up off the floor and now I'm back to the drawing board.

If this experience has taught me anything, it's this. You never know what will happen... People keep asking me if i'm upset that they hired and fired be so quickly. I'm only going to say that I don't regret it one bit because it's opened a HUGE door for me. My supervisor (the fun woman I interviewed with) has networked me into so many loops. I am slowly learning Networking 101. Seriously, this woman is genius. Anyway, I am meeting as many people for informational interviews as humanly possible and hoping that they will know something/somebody that they can put me in touch with... the idea is that I can move people when I meet them more than what I can do on paper or by email.

So it's back to square one, but I feel like I'm already 10 steps ahead... Thanks for everybody's support. But if you know of anybody who might have any tips or might know somebody I should meet with, please let me know... Oh, and this blog wouldn't be complete without me mentioning "Operation Hire Reina."

Thanks a Million.


  1. Reina, YOU are fabulous. EVERYONE should regconize this. I am honored to help you with your search and just sorry we had to cross paths in such an unfortunate way.

  2. Hi Reina,

    I sent Emily an email about the organization I am working for (I'm sure she sent it on to you) but if you want to intern while you job search this is a great place to do it. My boss is very well connected as are many people in the office and it is a great place to gain experience. (I can't even quantify all of the things I have learned in the past two months). Feel free to email me any time if you want to discuss possible options in the office or job options in general. I wish you the best of luck!


  3. Good Luck, Reina! I'm pulling for you down in Austin, Texas :-)


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